2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Review First Ride

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By John Burns

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Editor Score: 90.5%

Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.5/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Instruments/Controls 4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.5/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 10/10
Overall Score 90.5/100

When we last left the Ninja 1000 in 2017, all we could complain about was a bit of engine buzziness around 6000 rpm, a too-firm seat, and a lack of modern features, i.e., to wit, cruise control. Here it is another three years under the bridge, and for 2020, Kawasaki has blessed the latest iteration of its excellent sport-tourer with: upgraded electronics including cruise control, a smoother-running 1043 cc Inline-Four, and an improved seat that’s still just slightly on the wooden side. Suspension tweaks give the bike a more refined ride than ever – and all for only $200 more.

Kawasaki never did take the V-Twin plunge for its sporting motorcycles, and that’s a good thing, as it seems to have used that energy to perfect its Fours. Last month, we sampled the 999 cc Four in BMW‘s new S1000 XR, a hyperactive beast from which I am still feeling the PTSD. Compared to it, Kawi’s newly ride-by-wire Ninja engine is positively calming, with fueling from off-idle to redline that’s so beautifully linear and smooth, it never seems to have a fuel molecule out of place. Okay, it’s also slower than the BMW, but not really so’s you’d notice anywhere but the dragstrip or the front straight at Willow Springs.

Newly sculpted plastic with LED lighting and integrated front blinkers too.

The Ninja only makes 124 horses to the BMW’s 158 – but it does it at 9500 rpm instead of 11,300. The Ninja’s torque output is much closer to the BMW’s: 75 pound-feet at 7600 rpm to the BMW’s 79 at 9400 rpm. Natch, the …read more

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